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By Julien Pretot
PARIS, May 31 (Reuters) - Roger Federer's French Open campaign gained momentum as the Swiss second seed eased past France's Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-4 7-5 to reach the fourth round in awe-inspiring fashion on Friday.
There was the usual array of running aerial forehands, gravity-defying drop shots and whipped backhands from the former world number one who booked a meeting with American Sam Querrey, the 18th seed, or French 15th seed Gilles Simon.
Benneteau, the 30th seed, broke in the first game to open a 2-0 lead but 17-times grand slam champion Federer kept his cool and turned the situation around in no time.
Benneteau, who has been struggling with a groin problem, bowed out on the first match point when he could not retrieve another powerful Federer forehand.
Federer left Court Philippe Chatrier on a standing ovation from the Paris crowd.
"You are so nice to me," Federer said courtside with a smile. "I'm sorry for Julien, he looked diminished," he added after a 91-minute tennis masterclass.
Benneteau started with an exquisite crosscourt forehand winner and took the first game on Federer's serve but the Frenchman, who beat the Swiss in Rotterdam this year, could not sustain the pace.
At 3-3, Federer upped the tempo, winning 14 points in a row to snatch the opening set and he started the second in convincing style with some jaw-dropping shots.
The second game of the second set lasted just 45 seconds and Federer flicked a sublime backhand into Benneteau's feet to break decisively in the ninth game.
Benneteau continued to fight in the third, but Federer, who won the title in Paris in 2009, was simply too good. (Editing by Ed Osmond)